More than 200 cities and at least 12 states have announced their plans to support the Paris Agreement, despite President Donald Trump's June bombshell to withdraw from the climate accord. But the anti-Trump climate alliance may have overlooked a crucial impediment — it may be unconstitutional.
A recent report from the Congressional Research Service noted that a climate alliance could be interpreted as states entering into treaties with foreign nations, and it cited one constitutional provision and one legal precedent that may preclude states from making such deals.
The constitutional limits are Article I, Section 10 and the doctrine of foreign affairs preemption.
The relevant clauses of Article I, Section 10 provide that "No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation" and that "No State shall, without the Consent of Congress … enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign power."
The doctrine of foreign affairs preemption, meanwhile, deems a state law unconstitutional if it intrudes on the federal government's power to conduct foreign affairs.